We have come to the end of the 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge. The brainchild of Journalverse member and Journal to the Self certified instructor Nathan Ohren of EasyJournaling.com and write4life.us, the 30-Day Challenge has brought together more than 1200 writers from around the globe, each engaged for the month of October 2014 in a collective process of writing a journal on a computer, tablet, smart phone, or cloud.
My digital journal of choice is Journal to Health (JTH) , a secure online journaling site that features privacy, convenience, instant retrievability, and an odd sort of intimacy with the digital page, not unlike the feel of a paper journal. JTH’s creator is “Dr. J.” (Jackie) Swensen, a New York psychoanalyst (and Journalverse member) who says, “I call Journal to Health ‘a site for self-discovery’ because I agree with Aristotle, that ‘knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.’ Journal writing helps us know ourselves.”
I volunteered to be a beta-tester of JTH in its first release last summer. I was given a 60-day pass and the instruction to customize it to meet my tastes and use it as much I wanted. I admit to some trepidation; I’m a devoted handwriter, and I like my journal time curled up on the couch, or out on the porch, with coffee. I was secretly sure I wouldn’t be able to sustain a regular digital journal.
I was wrong.
Instead of failing, I fell in love.
Immediately I became enchanted by the daily quote about writing/journals/life that appears in my emailbox while I am still dreaming. When I awaken, I pour my first coffee, savor the quote (today’s: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” by the ever-inspiring Annie Dillard), and click the link in the email that takes me to my own JTH journal.
From there, it’s a familiar and comfy slide. I choose my topic from a comprehensive list that includes my own categories and themes. Individualized subtopics provide another layer of detail, metaphor, context — whatever strikes my mood, write, intention, or fancy.
I click the timer in the left column, pre-set for 15 minutes (I can set it for more time, or less.) I write, mindful of time, shooting to get my personal goal of 450 words in. When I have been writing for 15 minutes, my computer erupts in a wild burst of cheers and applause. That little five-second sound clip is my favorite addiction.
The stylish touches of JTH — the wallpaper (background) patterns, the “paper” (writing surface), the fonts that actually do look a little bit like my own printing — all add up to the same sort of comfort and nurturing that I associate with my handwritten journal.
About halfway through my 60-day trial, I started looking for the place I could subscribe. It wasn’t available yet. I tried not to worry, but I worried. I was hooked. I didn’t want my JTH experience to disappear. Fortunately, around Day 50, a subscription box appeared, and I instantly clicked the button for a $42.95 annual subscription. (I could have also chosen a $3.95 monthly charge.) I spend well over that in paper journals each year — why wouldn’t I gift myself with a year-long digital journal?
There’s a lot to love about Journal to Health. (Need one more? All US military veterans and families get FREE subscriptions.) You can sign up for your own 30-day free subscription HERE and see if it’s for you.